NAIROBI, Kenya June 2 – Two men described by security forces as Al Shabaab militants were gunned down in Mandera on Sunday night, sparking protests from locals who claimed one of them was a known Sheikh in the region.
According to Military Spokesman Maj Emmanuel Chirchir, the two militants are from Somalia, and were shot after attacking police officers and Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers.
“Terror gang hurled grenade at police in attempt to escape. The police shot them, killing 2 and 1 reported escaped, 8 Grenades recovered,” Chirchir tweeted on Monday morning, identifying one them as “Sheikh Hassan ‘Black’.
He claimed the Sheikh is a “Suicide Bomber from Khadija Haji in Somalia.”
The killings sparked protests from locals, some of who claimed they knew the two men well, insisting they were not criminals.
“There is tension in the region after word went round that the two men have been killed, people are accusing the security forces of killing innocent men,” a senior police officer from the region said, and insisted “but we know these are criminals, because Sheikhs don’t walk around with grenades.”
Maj Chirchir on his part said KDF and police had learnt of the men’s plan to conduct a terror attack in Mandera before they laid an ambush.
“KDF/Police shared intelligence that three suspects believed armed with explosives were heading to Mandera to conduct terror,” Chirchir said.
The two are reported to have been travelling from Garissa.
Kenyan security forces have lately intensified patrols at key towns and border points, following persistent terror attacks and threats posed by Al Shabaab militants since the Kenyan government sent its troops to Somalia in October 2011.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed that his government will not bow into pressure from the militants to withdraw his troops from the war ravaged country, until the war against Al Shabaab is won.